by Jon Stimmell
In reaction to legislation regulating heavy cuts over 40 acres, Northeast Kingdom opponents have organized a newly formed group called Property Owners Standing Together or POST.
The group, which hopes to draw members from across the state, plans to meet Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Trucott Logging garage in Barton, where it will start planning a strategy as well as create a steering committee.
"We've even invited the governor, if he wants to come," said Bette Trucott of Barton, who runs Bob Trucott Logging with her husband.
The law requires landowners to file a notice of intent if they are planning a heavy cut of 40 acres or more. It also requires a $100 application fee and a waiting period.
The Trucotts and over 200 other dissatisfied loggers, landowners, and other concerned individuals met last Sunday in Barton to voice opposition against House Bill 536, which was signed into law on Tuesday by Dean.
Citing the loss of property rights, landowners against the bill have begun or will soon start posting land against all types of recreational activity, including fishing, hunting, hiking, and snowmobiling.
Last Sunday, loggers set a goal of posting one million acres across the state. At least 60,000 acres have already been pledged for posting in opposition to the law. Trucott said yesterday some landowners have already begun posting their land.
"We'll have more information on Saturday," she said.
Agencyof NaturalResources SecretaryBarbaraG.Ripley released a statement this week in an attempt to outline the bill in the face of vocal opposition by opponents in the Northeast Kingdom and across the state.
"There has been a lot of confusion over these new guidelines designed to stop liquidation of Vermont's forest," Ripley said in the release. "The vast majority of Vermont landowners and loggers will not be affected by this law."
Ripleyfollowedwithseveral points, including the law's goal of preventing "the liquidation of timber, not good forestry."
The agency estimates that only 50 notices will have to be filed annually as a result of the new guidelines and it will be the responsibility of the landowner to file the notice.
The statement indicated that most timber harvests of more than 40 acres would not need to have a notice of intent filed, stating, "Only if the landowner intends to heavily cut the timber and the heavy cut does not fall under the law's exemptions."
If the property is enrolled in a current use program, a notice of intent isn't necessary because a forestry management plan for the timber section already exists.
Landowners who are converting forest to agricultural land are exempt from the filing requirement.
Other exempted properties include land tracts that have state approved a management plans, and properties used for providing wood for wood burning power plants.
The ANR will refund the $100 filing fee if the agency determines that the land tract falls under one of the law's exemptions.